Nia Testimonial: Allison, Nia Student

Denver, Colorado, United States

About me:

I am currently a high school teacher at an alternative charter school in Denver, Colorado. I have been working with at-risk youth for 10 years. My passion is to help young people and the margianalized of this world realize their potential in life. I have travelled to Central and South America to learn Spanish to become fluent in understanding not only Spanish, but also a culture that is often misunderstood. I am currently getting my Master's in Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Education in hopes to become a change agent for Multicultural Education.

Why do you practice and/or teach Nia?

The story is complex. I walked into an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. This was a first step towards letting go of the anxiousness I had allowed myself to feel the past few years, in new places with new people. My friend and I made ourselves go to a class called Nia, without knowing what it was. It sounded bizarre, and I like that.

As the instructor told us to roar like tigers, I was not sure I could live up to the expectation. I sat cross-legged on the floor, refusing to open my mouth as the other students around me roared. I did not understand the complexity of the routine or how this dance would eventually teach me to surrender. Years of depression, anxiety attacks, a broken heart and an increasing loathing of myself had led to to believe there was no place that could help me heal to the extent my soul needed. I didn’t want to talk about the pain or the insecurities that perplexed my mind every moment. I just wanted to let my mind escape to the beauty of music, and maybe begin to heal my body and my heart.

I can present myself in a very confident way, when I am not asked to be vulnerable. But when the walls are dropped and I am asked to accept myself as I am, I cave. This acceptance is something I have longed for my entire life, but when someone can’t recognize the beauty outward or within, that is a hard task to accomplish. I struggle to look at people eye-to-eye, for fear that they will see what I see in myself…and that is painful. So, I chose to dance. But this dance is unlike any I have experienced. It taps into this piece in my soul that allows me to understand myself. It is power, control, balance and connectedness. In this short time, the power the instructor has to move negative energy out is incredible. Her words are not of judgment and her belief in humanity and love keeps me craving this dance every day.

Day by day, as I force myself to attempt this new movement of dance, my heart, mind and soul are taking the journey of healing. I am beginning to see myself. I am finally, slowly, peeking in the mirror, and I don’t feel hatred. Instead, I feel inner peace and beauty. The energy is unlike any feeling I have had in the past few years. It is a long journey ahead of me, but I have a new faith. It is of determination and acceptance. And because of this, I practice Nia.

Where and with whom do you take Nia classes and/or trainings?

I take classes in Denver, Colorado. I primarily take classes with Dana Hood. It's an honor to be a part of her class. It is because of her that I have had this opportunity to transform myself into the woman I am becoming. Her dynamic energy, grace and belief in community makes me crave this dance every day. Being a part of her class, I can say that she absolutely deserves the Nia Teacher of the Year Award that was given to her.

Words are not enough to explain the sheer joy that she brings to every class. She has been a major part of my healing journey, and now I am planning to take my White Belt in June, with the intention of someday teaching my young students the power of this dance. If anyone wants a tranformation in his/her life, Dana's class is the place to be. She will rock your soul.

What is one thing most people don't know about Nia?

I came to Nia driven to lose weight. I came, as many do, obsessed with getting results for my body. I now go to Nia regularly and have tossed the scale. I have learned about my physical, emotional and mental journey–and that has allowed me to stop judging, stop waiting and start living. Nia has allowed me to live again.

What tip can you give someone who is considering trying Nia for the first time?

Leave all inhibitions at the door. Allow yourself to let go; be free. Stop judging yourself for where you want to be and love yourself for where you are today. There is no day but today. Nia allows your body, mind and soul to breathe, pulse, feel, let go, dream, move, sing, and most importantly, to be you. That is the best gift you can give yourself.